Anne Arundel County might hit the brakes on construction of monster parking lots by creating parking-space limits that would make environmentalists happy but some business owners frustrated.
During a seminar on suburban land-use issues at Anne Arundel Community College yesterday, Steven Cover, the county planning director, announced a proposal to limit the number of spaces for large new malls to 5.5 per 1,000 square feet of retail space.
The county, outside of Annapolis, has surplus parking spaces. Perhaps half of the more than 1 million slots are empty on an average day, Cover estimated in an interview.
The extra blacktop can cause pollution, because rain that washes off parking lots is tainted with oil that drips from cars, Cover said.
In addition, extra-large parking lots are often ugly and detract from a neighborhood's intimacy, he said.
"The business community may not like these restrictions, but they are better for our environment, our quality of life and the aesthetics of our community," Cover said. "It's hard to argue with all that."
The County Council will consider the parking limits this fall.
The ordinance would not apply inside Annapolis, where residents often complain that they can't find parking places.
Patricia Ewing, a south county environmental activist, praised the idea of controlling the number of huge parking lots.
"It's a good idea to reduce the amount of impervious surfaces, because whatever pollution runs off the parking lots eventually ends up in the Chesapeake Bay," said Ewing, a member of the board of the South County Coalition.
"But this should really be done in connection with additional steps, like reducing suburban sprawl, making it easier for people to walk places and improving public transportation," she said.
Some business leaders said they were worried that the restrictions could frustrate developers and mall business owners.
Frederick C. Sussman, vice chairman of the legislative committee of the Anne Arundel Trade Council, said that during the busy holiday season, businesses might need the parking spaces that sit unused the rest of the year.
"Because the business owners make such a large portion of their revenues on those busy days, they want to be ensured of having adequate parking," said Sussman, who added that he had not reviewed the proposed legislation.
Anne Marie Logan, marketing director for Annapolis Mall, on Route 450, said the mall's 4,700 parking spaces are not excessive.
The parking lot is almost always full in the weeks before Christmas, Logan said, and each space is used an average of five times on an average Saturday.
Currently, there is no limit on the number of parking spaces a mall developer is permitted to build, Cover said.
The county requires a minimum of 5.5 spaces per 1,000 square feet of retail space for malls containing 50,000 to 600,000 square feet.
Most developers build 10 percent to 20 percent more spaces than that in the belief that more parking encourages business, Cover said. Some build as many as 40 percent more.
Under the ordinance the county is considering, developers would be allowed no more than the current minimum unless they obtained permission, Cover said.
Pub Date: 7/11/97